Highly localized tribological contacts can modify the surface texture of rolling element bearing surfaces. The evolution of the surface texture generates modified subsurface stress fields within the contact and subsequently may alter the bearing rolling contact fatigue (RCF) life. In this present study, relationships between bearing surface topography and subsurface stress states are examined for their effects on bearing RCF life in the limiting case of boundary or dry contact. Results show that seemingly minor changes to surface topography may influence the stress distribution enough to affect RCF life under heavily loaded conditions.

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